Elle returns to fashion roots and eyes Vogue ads

Monthly glossy Elle has been revamped as a fashion title, putting it firmly in Vogue territory, in a bid to distance itself from the lifestyle glossies.

Elle has traditionally competed with Glamour, Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan in the twentysomething lifestyle market, but the rethink moves the title closer to the fashion-focused monthlies such as Vogue and the recently revamped Harper’s.

Elle, a Hachette Filipacchi title, has always been fashion-based, but the redesign bumps up the fashion content and replaces the traditional celebrity cover star with a model.

The company hopes to reduce the circulation pressure on the title and increase profit from high-end advertising. Vogue is understood to currently command around three times as much per advertising page as Elle.

Elle editor-in-chief Lorraine Candy said that by taking the magazine down a strong fashion route, it will appeal to the title’s core reader.

She said: ‘The market has dictated that every editor looks at their magazine at the moment – it’s a very tough time on the newsstands in terms of circulation.

‘Looking at circulation as its stands, those magazines that have been hit the hardest have been Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour. They have suffered for no other reason than the weeklies coming into the market and the dynamics changing.”

Candy added: ‘Now we’re looking at making this a fashion magazine, circulation pressure is not so strong for us, because we make our money from advertising in the way that Vogue does. I want it to be about what it’s supposed to be about – and that is fashion.”

Glamour, the top women’s consumer title in the last ABCs, saw a 7.1 per cent year-on-year fall in circulation for the first half of 2007 to 544653. Elle’s circulation saw a dip of 2.6 per cent to 203,302, but it has retained a steady circulation around the 200,000 mark for the past five years.

The title will still use celebrity covers, but only if fashion-related. Other changes include a six-page accessories section and a doubling of the size of the magazine’s front section, Elle Edit, as well as improving the quality of the paper.

Dan Pimm, the head of press at advertising agency Universal McCann, said that while he could see why Elle had made the changes, concentrating on just fashion could be a turn-off for some advertisers.

He said: ‘Elle pulls in a broader range of advertising. With Vogue, everyone needs to go in from the premium end, but Elle can attract a wider range. If they go much further upmarket and fashion-orientated, then that wide advertiser pool is going to reduce.”

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